Changing Landscape: Niort to beyond Cholet. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 14, 2014

Changing Landscape: Niort to beyond Cholet.

Monday morning rush hour traffic slows to a halt on the road below my campsite, as I push the bike out from behind the spoil-heap, out upon the minor road that the cycle-path out of Niort led onto. This road is little more than a vehicle wide and is next to traffic free. It runs off at a right-angle from the highway and the hum of traffic fades as it runs between tall grass and wildflower margins, around the edge of a wheatfield and eventual back to the noise of the highway at a major junction.

I turn right at the traffic-lights and head for Fontenay Le Comte, which I approach shortly after nine-thirty. The town is set against a hill, meaning the main thoroughfare goes up a steep incline. I stop at a Carrefour express set into the terrace of shops, halfway up the street. I've finished the chocolate granola, but the only muesli here is expensive, as are most of the produces in this small local supermarche. Cans of Kronenberg are a good forty cents more than out-of-town stores. At the check-out, the customer in front of me is a forty-something man, flush red in the face and smelling of alcohol and dressed as if he is sleeping rough. He counts out in small change two euros forty for a single can of nine per cent prove beer.

Ten o'clock: Fontenay Le Comte.
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Leaving town on a D road from the top of the hill, the landscape onwards is a change for the worse. From the last couple of day's nice undulating road, which was unfenced either side, open to vivid green crop intermingled with squares of bright yellow. Now the view is gone, enclosed by high hedgerows on both sides and no longer undulating, but a continuous series of steep inclines. Its a tiresome drag to the next town, La Chalaigneraie, where I stop at a Lidl on the way in and buy those items which were too expensive earlier. Then lunch on the lawn to the rear of the store.

My comfortable seat: the bike is leant on the stand, while I can lean back and relax.
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The afternoon is warm and I feel tired, most probably after yesterday's effort. The road onwards has a green cycle-lane marked off until it ends, but the traffic is light. There's only an infrequent tractor or car passing and by now the countryside has levelled out somewhat.

The quiet country road nature of the itinary continues until reaching the large town of Cholet; where, I follow the signs from a long series of roundabouts for the next place. Then come to a roundabout, where the road I'm on, although a D road, is a motorway onwards: there's a blue no cycling sign; but, there is a sign directing cyclists and slow vehicles along a minor road.

The minor road, just a country lane, meanders, bridges the motorway and runs around a field of black and white dairy cows, then bridges the motorway again. It is time to look out for somewhere to camp, but its nearly all fenced in pastureland. Keep out. Then I come to a huge feed mill, opposite which is woodland with a gateway in. I push the bike off the road and in beyond the gateway out of sight. A short way in the trees give way to a pond with near the water's edge, level grassy areas in among stout tree-trunks. An ideal place to camp.

Baling and rapping. This type of animal fodder, as oppose to clamp silage, is very mobile and increases in value toward the end of the following Winter, when stocks of fodder begin running out.
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The small town I stopped in at three o'clock.
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There's that man on the bike again. Hey matey!
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Slow vehicles and me are re-directed away from the main highway.
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Looking up from where I camped.
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Today's ride: 115 km (71 miles)
Total: 14,351 km (8,912 miles)

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